This is where hacktavist groups could come into their own, step up and help protect vunerable people against this sort of exploitation.
Premium-rate call regulator PhonePayPlus has fined Red Play Media £50,000 for using Adword adverts to trick surfers into using premium-rate numbers to call non-premium services. Red Play Media bought up Adwords, and Bing equivalents, to place links alongside searches for "NHS Direct" or similar. Clicking on the advert brings …
it doesnt need a hactivist group, it would be quite possible for a non hactivist group of objectors to do it with little or no specialist knowledge
hypothetically speaking... if a group of people wanted to object to this type of "scam" on moral grounds, they could though non agressive and legal means object to the advert by actually clicking the advert and then not calling the phone number.
Every click costs them money, the more people who click the ad, then return to google and click a legitimate search term istead, will reduce their CTR, their ad campaign will appear to be less relevant to the search term and the cost per click to maintain the top spot in google will increase. Additionally if the campaign has a fixed daily budget, it will be depleted and the advert will fall off google for that day, unless it is manually updated.
If 1000 people decided to click their ad and not phone their hookey phone service, say only once per hour, just in case the offer has changed, assuming a £0.10 - £0.25 Cost Per Click rate It would cost them £100 - £250 every hour. which would set them back £2400-£6000 per day of protest. and thats only with 1000 people objecting.
google can track IP and monitor for this sort of clicking behaviour, but its hard for a company to prove the clicks were not legitimate and get a refund from google for click fraud.
However organising a orchestrated clicking protest may be seen as a DOS attack and criminal charges may be pressed.
If enough people did this the company would begin to realise they are not getting a rate of return high enough to justify the increasing google budget, and would have to consider closing down the ad for that phrase.
Again just a hypothetical way to object to this sort of company and its not so moral behaviour. The legal aspects of it I couldnt be too sure of.
Why give Gurgle more revenue by frivolous clicks on the scam advertiser? Without their search engine bringing this up, you would not be tempted to waste money on these phone calls. It would seem better to refrain from clicking on their ad and click on the CORRECT telephone number to help your fellow man by raising that to the top. Google could already do that if it were not so evil and greedy.
Make a list of telephone numbers you might require in case of (near) panic. Next to emergency numbers, doctors, hospitals, credit card cancellation, your bank's local branch and headquarters, accountant, lawyer, local food delivery, and whatever else you can come up with. Plant the list securely next to the land line or whatever is appropriate for you. Then help your relatives do the same.
Not the first time people end up doing stupid stuff trying to amend for stupid stuff having happened. You're quite vulnerable when hastily not thinking. A relative-by-marriage fell for a credit card phishing scam, got told (by family) to cancel the credit card right away, called a googled number, which turned out to be another very friendly person asking for PINs and whatnot. For this sort of thing, it helps to've spent a couple minutes figuring it out beforehand. And it might even help circumvent the case where the legitimate service phone is already a premium number, as the non-premium number behind it might be findable with a bit of searching.
Also good to have: Fax(modem) and list of fax numbers. Instead of waiting in queue or navigating an oh-so-helpful menu system, write a message politely venting your spleen then fax it. Better than an email (if only for the lack of "your mesage is so value to us"-autoresponder, also legal status in many countries) and faster than a letter. Also: Free receipt. You can always call up right on its heels to make sure they get moving, and at least they have the full story with all the relevant details spelled out correctly.
This premium phone fronting is a neat little scam, but relatively easy to defend against. A little preparation goes a long way here.
Its known as passing off. The advert is delivertly designed to lure visitors by appearing to be the genuine service, in this case nhs direct.
Since paid links on google appear before standard results and only differ in background colour very slightly, the vast majority of people will see the top link, assume it is the authority site and click it.
Add a confusingly similar domain name, nhs-direct.co.uk say, very vague text in small print of below the fold on the browser to cover the legal angles and perhaps obscure who they are or servies they prvide using long winded text. The unsuspecting or unaware punter wont realise its not a genuine site, dial the number on it and get stung.
As opposed to directory services (118, yell etc) who dont pretend to be the nhs or tax office or tax advice service and are open as to what services they supply in pretty plain text. When you call them you are aware they are premium services and your going to be charged a high call rate.
You didn't read the whole article. They said 1) By buying an ad for "NHS Direct", the regulators decided some looking up NHS DIrect would in fact need health care, and so be impaired. Premium number regulations prohibit trying to profit from impaired people. 2) Using the wayback machine, it was found that these sites DID NOT always have that disclaimer (I don't think they were fined because of this, but probably should have been.)
I just looked at www.phonenumber.co.uk, and on the front page there's no mention of any cost, and the search box says "Use the search box below to locate the phone number of the company or organisation you are looking for.", NOT "Use the search box below to get some 900 number that'll read you the phone number you are looking for.") Without the fine print (which is only on the final page....) it'd seem clear based on the web site design that if you type "Sony" into the search box, then pick Sony off the second page (because they list both Sony and Sony Erricson), that the third page has Sony's phone number.
If you're dumb enough to type stuff into Google and click on the top link then you deserve to get scammed.
I know someone who failed her driving test. On the back of the bit of paper the examiner gives you, it says "to book a test, go to www.direct.gov.uk/motoring". What did she do? Types "book driving test online" in Google and clicks on the top link. And then asked me why the Department of Transport took payment via PayPal.
Google are evil.
PhonePhonePlus is a stupid name.
There is no need for premium rate phone numbers any more, you can get free porno online nowadays. Or so I'm told.
Closer to home, for us "IT angle" types: this kind of scam brings to mind those feckers Melbourne Network Solutions, who trawl the lists of about-to-expire domain names and then send out to the owners, letters which look like an official invoice for the domain renewal, with teensy weensy text at the bottom telling you that the letter isn't really an invoice and you are not obliged to switch to them as your registrar.
I wonder how many people have fallen for their snidey tricks?
Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019